OK, first of all, thank you to friends like Solange and Caroline who were willing to take the time to contact our government to express their concerns about the treatment of bomb-sniffing dogs used by our military. It is my firm belief that our democracy is of, for and by the people, and that means that “we the people” are compelled to participate when "we" want something done. In my mind, that means writing letters, making phone calls and taking to the streets every now and again.
As my fb friends know, I’ve been well, like a dog to a bone, since mid September when I read an email from two Air Force officers that stated the following:
“"You might be shocked and dismayed to learn that when these dogs are retired, they are snuffed out for their service. It is cheaper to euthanize them than transport them back. “
Thankfully, that is not exactly true. It seems that many Americans, like my friends and I, were outraged by such treatment. To that end, in 2000 a law called “The Robby Law” was passed unanimously by Congress and signed by President Clinton. It requires the military to put “military working dogs” up for adoption. The dogs can only be killed if they pose a threat or to prevent undue pain and suffering. There is a program in Lackland, TX that helps place the dogs with their handlers, law enforcement agencies and families willing to adopt them.
So, was that original email from Air Force officers an urban legend? No. Unfortunately dogs used by contractors are not protected by the Robby Law. Sadly also, that law was not enacted in time to save Robby's life. Of course I’m not happy about this side-stepping of U.S. law, or any done by contractors as they are de facto representatives of our interests. I’m also not too happy that the Public Affairs office never got back to any one of my four friends who called about this issue back in September, even though their message states that they return all calls within five business days. Ultimately though, that did not deter me one bit and I am glad that I have gotten to the bottom of this story. I am also very pleased that there is a way for ordinary citizens to adopt these dogs. My lease prevents me from doing so at this time, but at some other point the adoption site is the first place I will look for a dog. These posts may also help connect eligible dogs with new homes. I am grateful that Americans flooded the DoD, Congress and the President with their concern, and that the fate of these wonderful animals was changed by the people. It would be great to see the contractor loop hole closed, but I’ll leave that fight for someone else. Thank you again to those of you who got involved. It really does make a difference.